Community reacts to city’s decision not to seek a millage through a vote of the people; most residents supportive
BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, EDITOR
Boyne City will use its general fund dollars rather than ask taxpayers for a millage to buy the Open Space property.
The Boyne City Commission decided unanimously at its Tuesday July 25 meeting that the city would be better off funding the nearly $895,000 in local matching funds to purchase the 475 North Lake St. waterfront property.
“[W]e’ve been discussing, for some time, the ways to fund the Open Space acquisition,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain during last week’s meeting.
According to Cain, the estimated price tag on the property is $3.2 million.
The city expects to receive grant moneys of nearly $2,294,000 from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund in addition to a $10,000 grant awarded by the Charlevoix County Community Foundation.
Boyne City’s auditors have projected the city’s general fund balance—as of April 30—to be $2,276,210.
This is number is important because the city has a policy which requires a minimum of a 25 percent fund balance to be retained to help safeguard the city’s obligations and to be prepared for financial emergencies.
“This is much much better than the worst-case scenario that I included in this year’s proposed budget,” said Cain.
Putting this matter to a vote of the people with a millage proposal to see if taxpayers wished to pay for this waterfront property—which is slated to be used as a public park—had been discussed.
However, city officials felt public desire for the Open Space was sufficient to go forward without a millage.
Bob Grove and Mike Dow bought the 475 North Lake St. property for an undisclosed amount of money from developer Devlon Corporation back in the middle of 2015.
Since then, the city has been leasing the 4.5-acre property for a dollar a year.
“I almost want to step back and absorb the enormity of the situation. It was just a little over two years ago that we built and fully paid for our new DPW facility—paid in cash,” Cain said. “We’re not going forward, based on grants and our available fund balances to take on another huge project without going back to the voters and asking for additional funds.”
He added, “This is the perfect example of how we’ve basically taken the taxpayers’ revenues that they entrust us with, the proceeds that they give us, and use that to leverage good things to happen in Boyne City.”
Cain said he feels that is the reason the taxpayers trusted the city with the $7 million millage to pay for the new city hall and emergency services building.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said she was in favor of going forward with the plan laid out by Cain.
Boyne City Commissioner Hugh Conklin said he agrees but wants to see a plan to have the property improved as soon as possible.
Cain said it is tough to say because the state’s timeline varies but once the paperwork is finished, they might have a firmer timeline.
“It’s either going to be the last part of this year or the first part of 2018,” Cain said of the city’s ability to take ownership of the property.
Boyne City Mayor Tom Neidhamer said it is a good day for Boyne City.
No motion was necessary and no vote required of the commission to move forward with Cain’s proposal.